Ponga eyeing Slater's vacant No.1 Qld jersey

Kalyn Ponga is eyeing off the fullback vacancy in the Queensland State of Origin side.

With Billy Slater retiring from representative football, playing for the Maroons is again on Ponga's wish-list.

Having missed the final game of the 2018 series due to a hamstring injury, the hunger burns strong for the young gun to feature in Kevin Walters' side.

'NINE OR EIGHT POSITIONS UP FOR GRABS'


While he'll start this season at five-eighth for the nib Newcastle Knights, Ponga sees his new positional role as a challenge rather than a roadblock in his journey to make the state side.

"Origin is the goal again this year, for sure," Ponga told FOGS.com.au.

"I was gutted when I got hurt after that first game for Queensland because I had that taste of Origin. That's why I want to be back in that arena.


"The fullback spot would be great this year, especially with Billy Slater retiring, but honestly I will play anywhere. I just want to wear that Maroon jumper again."

SAIFITI 'WELL AHEAD' IN RECOVERY FROM INJURY

Ponga has shifted to five-eighth from fullback this year, using his Origin experience to give him the confidence needed for his new role.


Much has been made of the increased defensive load but the 22-year-old isn't concerned.

"We'll see how we go," he said.

"People are saying 'he will be in the frontline' but I am not really fazed by the defensive part of it.

"You don't really know if you can do something until you do it. I didn't think I could handle playing the minutes I did in Origin and I managed to do it, so hopefully I can surprise myself again."